Ads Increase Curiosity and Trial of E-Cigarettes Among Young Adults

Dr. Andrea C. Villanti PhD, MPH Director, Regulatory Science and Policy Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Truth Initiative Washington, DC 20001

Dr. Villanti

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Andrea C. Villanti PhD, MPH
Director, Regulatory Science and Policy Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Truth Initiative
Washington, DC 20001

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Villanti: Awareness, interest, and use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have increased since the products were introduced in the U.S. in 2006. Between 2012 and 2013, 8.3% of young adults reported current e-cigarette use compared to 4.2% of adults overall. One factor likely driving e-cigarette use as well as the use of other tobacco products is advertising, which has been demonstrated to promote the initiation and continued use of cigarettes. Advertising is critical for raising awareness about newly introduced products, and has been shown to influence initiation, experimentation, and progression to regular combustible cigarette smoking in youth.

This study used a randomized control trial to assess the impact of brief exposure to four e-cigarette print advertisements (ads) on perceptions, intention, and subsequent use of e-cigarettes and cigarettes among young adults (age 18-34). It found that exposure to e-cigarette ads may enhance curiosity and limited trial of e-cigarettes in never users. Other findings include:

  • Compared to the control group, ad exposure was associated with greater curiosity to try an e-cigarette among never e-cigarette users (18.3% exposed vs. 11.3% unexposed), and greater likelihood of e-cigarette trial at follow-up among never users of cigarettes and e-cigarettes (3.6% exposed vs. 1.2% unexposed).
  • Exploratory analyses did not find an association between ad exposure and cigarette trial or past 30-day use among never users at follow-up, nor cigarette use among smokers over time.
  • Curiosity to try an e-cigarette mediated the relationship between ad exposure and e-cigarette trial among e-cigarette never users.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Villanti: E-cigarette advertisements have the potential to enhance curiosity and trial of e-cigarette use among young adults. Study findings on the relationship of ad exposure and trial among never users of both cigarettes and e-cigarettes should contribute to concerns regarding the consequences to young people of unrestricted marketing of e-cigarettes.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Villanti: Future studies are needed to examine whether e-cigarette use decreases, increases, or has no population level impact on patterns of combustible tobacco use, particularly among youth and young adults.

Citation:

Impact of exposure to e-cigarette advertising on susceptibility and trial of e-cigarettes and cigarettes in U.S. young adults: A randomized controlled trial

Andrea C. Villanti, Jessica M. Rath, Valerie F. Williams, Jennifer L. Pearson,Amanda Richardson, David B. Abrams, Raymond S. Niaura, and Donna M. Vallone

Nicotine Tob Res first published online November 16, 2015 doi:10.1093/ntr/ntv235

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Dr. Andrea C. Villanti PhD, MPH (2015). Ads Increase Curiosity and Trial of E-Cigarettes Among Young Adults